Friday, April 6, 2012

I can't get enough of The Victorian Farm and The Edwardian Farm. They keep replaying these excellent English programs on TVO. I recently watched the Easter episode and this week, Duncan and I thought it would be fun to try out egg blowing and dying eggs with colour made from boiled onion skin. You'll see below that we likely used too many pieces of skin, or left the egg in the liquid for too long. The egg turned out looking like a brown egg. We still had fun blowing the egg. We only broke one, so that wasn't too bad.

Parenting: Two Extremes

Now that I've been a mother for six years and a teacher for five, I've become aware that there are two horrible types of parenting and one sensible way.

On one end is the cellphone parent, always talking, texting, and totally neglecting his or her own child. I've been to birthday parties and watched parents ignore other parents and their own child and sit over to the side texting, or Facebooking.

The other extreme are the helicopter parents who micromanage every minute of their child's day. Often these kids are also "bubble wrapped" and not allowed to do anything remotely dangerous or fun. Yesterday our school had to file outside when the the fire alarm was pulled. It was a false alarm, but the kids were outside on a cold morning without their coats on. Another teacher told me he thinks these moments are good for kids. True, I said. "It helps toughen them up."

I know of someone who is constantly on the phone when with her son. I want so badly to say something, but I always err on the side of caution.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Country in the City

As a child, I was lucky to have a cottage to visit on the weekends where we could run around and see nature up close. Now that I have a child, but no cottage, I'm trying to give Duncan as many opportunities to be surrounded by nature - even just in Toronto.
Last weekend, we visited Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens. We caught some minnows and took a quick, close-up look, before putting them back in the creek.
Duncan will never forget what a minnow is, now that he's held one.
A beautiful insect that we looked up in an insect identification book when we got home. I believe it's a black winged damselfly.

This is a great place to let kids learn about water, insects, and fish.
Duncan could have spent the entire day here.
Today we went back to Woodbine Park, at the foot of Coxwell Avenue, before you get to Lake Ontario. We caught two froglets. The smaller one had already grown it's front legs, but the bigger one was barely out of the tadpole stage.

I let Duncan take a froglet out of the pale for a few seconds just to get a better look. We let them back in the water afterwards.
Swans who had been preening themselves.
Over on the far side of the manmade pond, we caught a beautiful, green leopard frog.
We checked him out for a few minutes and then let him hop back into his watery habitat.

Later, Duncan appropriately enough cooled off on a giant frog at the adjacent splash pad.
The last thing we did was go to the beach where Duncan built a dam. The beach was seriously over-crowed and too many people were showing off close to shore on jet skis. I'd go back on a weekday afternoon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Looking for Frogs

Last Sunday, we celebrated my sister's birthday, my dad's birthday, and Mother's Day in St. Catharines. Later in the day, we visited one of my favourite places in the area: Morning Star Mill. It's a historical site with a grist mill and saw mill. You can wander around for free and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
My dad discovered this happy morning dove, guarding her nest.
Duncan was interested in the old-time farm equipment. He was trying to turn the crank.
I've always had a fascination with creeks. I think it's because my family's first cottage had a little creek at the end of the property line. We used to play in it.

We have seen frogs here before, but it wasn't their time yet. Duncan spent a bit of time looking for tadpoles. Maybe next time, we'll take another look.
This bridge looks like an old stone bridge you'd see in Scotland.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Early Spring Magic At Taylor Creek Park

Before heading down into Taylor Creek Park, Duncan horsed around in the tube slide at Cullen Bryant Park. This park is set in a wooded area and whenever we're there, there's never anyone else there.

The light - it burns!
We visited the park on Wednesday and it appeared that we caught the tail end of the spring thaw. Let's hope that we won't have anymore surprise snow storms.

Look around and there's beauty hiding in all kinds of places.
Taylor Creek glistens in the late day sun.

Sizing up the watery path with Dad.
Would boots leak? Would the concrete be covered in slippery algae? Is this a good idea?

Well, socks did get wet, but it was also a lot of fun.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beachcombing at the Don

After a lengthy hiatus, The Foolscap Flyer is back. I've been busy teaching, being a mother, and spending more time reading, watching films, and taking photographs. With the weather slowly starting to warm up, I took Duncan down to the Don River (from Gerrard to Pottery Road) this past weekend to see if it's true that you can find old washed-up treasures. Duncan had fun sloshing around in the mud and icy water. Why not? We filled a bag with broken pottery. Duncan found a lot of pieces, including half of a huge clay pot that was buried. I didn't take a picture of it, but now I wish I had. He dug it up with a big stick he had found and then used the stick as a lever. Duncan's very good with handling sharp objects around the house, so I let him handle the broken pottery on his own. Much of it had been weathered by the sand. Kids are constantly being told not to do things, so it's great when it's your own child and you can just let them explore without being overly cautious. We also found a very old medicine bottle that was a little cracked, but otherwise in good condition considering its age. Duncan scored a jar filled with golfballs. It looked like someone else had found them and just left them there. I'd like to get some junky old golf clubs in the summer so we can put put around the backyard. I can't wait to go back and look for more treasures from Toronto's past.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cracker Box Puppet Theatre

If you have a child who likes crafts and puppets, here's a cheap and cheerful weekend activity. Go to Craft Projects and print off the puppet theatre and puppet templates. Cut out an appropriate-size hole in a cracker box. Colour and cut out templates. Glue puppet theatre template to cracker box and attach puppets to straws or wooden sticks. We had to tape two straws together so that the puppets would reach down low enough. Voila!

Duncan insisted we add a "real" curtain, so he found a piece of felt and we jerry-rigged a pulley system with a straw crank at the top. How such a non-perfectionist could have such a perfectionist for a child is beyond me. I blame my husband.
Okay - he was right. It really did need a curtain. What do I know?
Behind the scenes at the theatre.